Theological Schools

For over 25 years, Auburn’s Center for the Study of Theological Education have been a trusted source of data and perspectives on the changing landscape of theological education in North America. Our research focuses on institutional innovation, dynamics in teaching and learning, and the relationship between theological education and the issues facing the broader public life of society.

BRIGHT SPOTS IN THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION: HOPEFUL STORIES IN A TIME OF CRISIS AND CHANGE (2016)

By Christian Scharen and Sharon Miller
Hopeful stories in the time of crisis and change.

LEARNING PASTORAL IMAGINATION: A FIVE-YEAR REPORT ON HOW NEW MINISTERS LEARN IN PRACTICE (2016)

By Christian Scharen and Eileen R. Campbell-Reed
Understanding ministry today is far from a self-evident exercise. Is it a calling? A professional role? A particular kind of identity conferred through licensing or ordination? How is ministry like other professions? How is it unique?

 

Theological School Leadership

 

GOVERNANCE THAT WORKS: EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP FOR THEOLOGICAL SCHOOLS (2015)

By Barbara G. Wheeler and Helen Ouellette
At a time when many theological schools are experiencing significant challenges, this report helpfully examines several schools as notable cases of effective governance.

LEADERSHIP THAT WORKS: A STUDY OF THEOLOGICAL SCHOOL PRESIDENTS (2010)

By Barbara G. Wheeler, G. Douglass Lewis, Sharon L. Miller, Anthony T. Ruger, and David L. Tiede
A five-member research team studied seminary presidents and their senior teams for four years to identify the ingredients of leadership that creates stable, forward-looking theological institutions.

IN WHOSE HANDS? A STUDY OF THEOLOGICAL SCHOOL TRUSTEES (2002)

By Barbara G. Wheeler
Who are the trustees of the approximately 250 theological schools in the United States?

 

Theological School Faculty

 

REPORT ON A STUDY OF DOCTORAL PROGRAMS THAT PREPARE FACULTY FOR TEACHING IN THEOLOGICAL SCHOOLS (2010)

By Helen M. Blier and Barbara G. Wheeler
Report on a study of 24 “top supplier” doctoral programs in theology and religion — those that send the most graduates to teach in seminaries and divinity schools. The report raises questions about the practices of programs and the employment prospects of graduates.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES: PRESENT AND FUTURE THEOLOGICAL FACULTY (2005)

By Barabara G. Wheeler, Sharon L. Miller, and Katarina Schuth
This study suggests that theological education is, on the whole, a stable enterprise. The findings of this study, compared with earlier research, show much in common, possible new trends, and a few dramatic shifts.

TENDING TALENTS: REPORTS FROM A STUDY OF THEOLOGICAL SCHOOL FACULTY (1997)

By Barbara G. Wheeler and Mark N. Wilhelm
A theological school is only as strong as its faculty. This research offers not only a picture of who is teaching in our seminaries, but also some of the challenges they face as they train students for ministry.

TRUE AND FALSE: REPORTS FROM A STUDY OF THEOLOGICAL SCHOOL FACULTY (1996)

By Barbara G. Wheeler
This report focuses on four issues: Retirements and Replacements, Morale, Women on Theological Faculties and Scholarship and Church Service.

BACKGROUND REPORTS – THEOLOGICAL SCHOOL FACULTY

Hard to Find: Searching for Practical Faculty; Faculty Compensation; Professionals, Pastors, and Pedagogues.

 

Students and Graduates

 

LEARNING PASTORAL IMAGINATION: A FIVE-YEAR REPORT ON HOW NEW MINISTERS LEARN IN PRACTICE (2016)

By Christian A.B. Scharen and Eileen R. Campbell-Reed
Understanding ministry today is far from a self-evident exercise. Is it a calling? A professional role? A particular kind of identity conferred through licensing or ordination?

ON OUR WAY: A STUDY OF STUDENTS’ PATHS TO SEMINARY (2014)

By Barbara G. Wheeler
Through extensive interviews with students and survey analysis from entering and graduating students a picture emerges of today’s theological students and how they experience their call to ministry.

EDUCATING RELIGIOUS LEADERS FOR FAITH-ROOTED JUSTICE WORK (2013)

By Justus Baird
Educating Religious Leaders for Faith-Rooted Justice is a report that maps and analyzes the field of educating religious leaders for faith-rooted justice work in America.

THEOLOGICAL STUDENT ENROLLMENT: A SPECIAL REPORT FROM THE AUBURN CENTER FOR STUDY OF THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION (2013)

By Barbara G. Wheeler, Anthony T. Ruger, and Sharon L. Miller
Are today’s students less or more qualified than their predecessors for theological study? What can seminaries and religious bodies do to assure excellence among future ministers, priests, and rabbis?

HOW ARE WE DOING? THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THEOLOGICAL SCHOOLS AS MEASURED BY THE VOCATIONS AND VIEWS OF GRADUATES (2007)

By Barbara G. Wheeler, Sharon L. Miller, Daniel O. Aleshire
Are seminaries and rabbinical schools doing their jobs effectively? What do graduates do in the years after they complete their education? How well do graduates feel their theological training prepared them for their work?

IS THERE A PROBLEM? THEOLOGICAL STUDENTS AND RELIGIOUS LEADERSHIP FOR THE FUTURE (2001)

By Barbara G. Wheeler
Are today’s students less or more qualified than their predecessors for theological study? What can seminaries and religious bodies do to assure excellence among future ministers, priests, and rabbis?

 

Theological Student Debt

 

TAMING THE TEMPEST: A TEAM APPROACH TO REDUCING AND MANAGING STUDENT DEBT (2014)

By Sharon L. Miller, Kim Maphis Early, and Anthony Ruger
This report analyzes educational borrowing of theological students, updates data from the previous study and offers suggestions for how schools can decrease student borrowing and mitigate some of the effects of debt among their students.

THE GATHERING STORM: THE EDUCATION DEBT OF THEOLOGICAL STUDENTS (2005)

By Anthony Ruger, Sharon L. Miller, and Kim Maphis Early
In the last decade, the percentage of students who have debt has increased, and the average amount of debt has increased dramatically. What are the ways that graduates, theological schools and denominations have found to avoid debt or minimize educational debt?

MANNA FROM HEAVEN? THEOLOGICAL AND RABBINICAL STUDENT DEBT (1995)

By Anthony Ruger and Barbara G. Wheeler
How prevalent is educational debt among theological students and are the amounts borrowed reasonable, or too high? How dependent are schools on funds that students obtain through loans? What effect does debt have on graduates and their careers?

THEOLOGICAL STUDENT DEBT: RESOURCES & TOOLS

Resources for Student Planning; A Call to Action: Lifting the Burden.

VIDEO: ARE YOU MORTGAGING YOUR MINISTRY? STUDENT LOANS AND SEMINARY COSTS

This video highlights five recent graduates and some of the challenges they faced and decisions they made regarding the financing of their education. Appropriate for current and prospective students, particularly useful for orientation. (30 min.)

VIDEO: FOSTERING A CULTURE OF RESPONSIBLE STEWARDSHIP

Highlights how one seminary has addressed student debt from multiple approaches. Particularly appropriate for boards and senior administrators of theological schools. (10 min.)

THEOLOGICAL STUDENT DEBT: AUBURN BACKGROUND REPORTS

Denominational Funding Patterns in Protestant Theological Education; Models of Manageable Educational Debt, Essays and Reflections on Seminary Student Debt; Essays and Reflections on Theological Student Debt; Historical Perspectives on the Funding of Rabbinical and Theological Education; An Analysis of Educational Debt among Theological and Rabbinical Students; Treasure and Talent: Compensation of Theological School Faculty 1987-­1993.

 

Financing of Theological Schools

 

THROUGH TOIL AND TRIBULATION: FINANCING THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION, 2001-­2011 (2014)

By Anthony Ruger and Chris A. Meinzer
In this report, revenues and expenditures of schools are analyzed for this ten year period. Enrollment trends, including extension sights and distance education, are reviewed as well.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS, FUNDRAISING PROSPECTS FOR THEOLOGICAL SCHOOLS (2009)

By Sharon L. Miller, Anthony T. Ruger, Barbara G. Wheeler
An analysis of fund­raising data from seminaries and theological schools show the growth, and sometimes decline, of donations over the last twenty years.

SEEK AND FIND? REVENUES IN THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION (2005)

By Anthony Ruger
As theological schools find financial support from denominations declining, they must look elsewhere for support.

THE BIG PICTURE: STRATEGIC CHOICES FOR THEOLOGICAL SCHOOLS (2000)

By Anthony Ruger and Barbara G. Wheeler
This report helps theological schools situate their strategic choices in the context of theological education as a whole.

LEAN YEARS, FAT YEARS: CHANGES IN THE FINANCIAL SUPPORT OF PROTESTANT EDUCATION (1994)

By Anthony Ruger
Revenue sources for theological education have changed significantly in the last twenty years with more reliance on endowments, gifts and grants and student fees.

 

Theological Education and the Public

 

MAKING CONNECTIONS: A GUIDE FOR CONDUCTING PERCEPTION STUDIES (2002)

This guide provides step-­by­-step assistance for theological schools that want to conduct perception studied in their own cities or regions.

MISSING CONNECTIONS: PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION AND RELIGIOUS LEADERSHIP (1999)

By Elizabeth Lynn and Barbara G. Wheeler
What does the public think about theological education and the religious leaders that seminaries train? Through extensive interviews in four cities, the authors find that often seminaries are invisible and they have little impact in their communities.

BACKGROUND ESSAYS – THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION AND THE PUBLIC

The Silent Seminary; What is our Business; Prophecy and Presence; The Heart of Things.

 

Multifaith Education

 

MULTIFAITH EDUCATION IN SEMINARIES: A RESOURCE DOCUMENT (2014)

From 2004-2014, Auburn was actively committed to advancing multifaith education in American theological schools. As part of our effort to support seminary faculty and educators who are committed to multifaith education, we created these resources. Auburn expresses its gratitude to the Henry Luce Foundation for its support of work in this field, which allowed Auburn to develop these resources. Comments and questions should be directed to Rabbi Justus Baird, Auburn’s Dean.

REACHING OUT: AUBURN SEMINARY LAUNCHES THE CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION (1993)

By Barbara G. Wheeler and Linda-Marie Delloff
With this issue, the Auburn Center for the Study of Theological Education launches a new publication, Auburn Studies. This inaugural edition introduces the Center and provides a bibliography of publications on theological education from a variety of sources during the last ten years.